How do I know whether I am attached to certain things or not? Examples:

  1. When we are attached to a taste, we will try to find more & more tasty foods. We can reduce that by getting a simple meal, cutting the extra meals or only taking 2 meals per day like monks.

  2. When we are attached to clothes, we are trying to buy the latest/expensive clothes. We can reduce that desire by wearing simple and charming clothes.

The questions are, How do I know whether I am attached to my career, exam results or not? (Now I am in university. I have to work for exams. Sometimes I feel, I am attached to exam results) If I am, how do I work without attaching to it?

I read this answer already: Should I do what I don't want to do?


9 Answers 9


How do I know whether I am attached to my career , exam results or not ?

The evidence for attachment is dukkha (suffering/discomfort/dissatisfaction). In your next sentence you seem to be aware of feeling the attachment (vedana). The answer to your question then lies in how that makes you feel.

( Now I am in the university. I have to work for exams. Sometime I feel , I am attached to exam results) If it is, How do I work without attaching to it ?

It's pretty much an either/or deal: You can either attach to a specific outcome, such as exam results, or put your effort into non-attachment according to buddhist dhamma.

To my understanding you can't do both, which can put us in a bit of a difficult existential quandary: The question whether you should be attached to your studies or not is only for you to determine.

In case you want to develop a buddhist practice, getting into the meditation called anapanasati is a good start. Also, it is a meditation that can yield good consequences for a lifetime.

This is a good start:


You will find plenty of discussion/instructions here:


  • Are their any practises / ways to reduce attachment ?(I mentioned similar practices in the question). Thanks :)
    – Dum
    Mar 8, 2020 at 11:54
  • @Dum I'll add it to my reply
    – user11699
    Mar 8, 2020 at 12:24
  • Can you think of something that especially help me to reduce attachment to exams/jobs ? (like wearing simple/charm clothes reduce the attachment to the clothes) Thanks :)
    – Dum
    Mar 8, 2020 at 12:51
  • @Dum apart from my original recommendation i'm afraid i don't have anything else. There are no quick fixes, if that's what you're asking.
    – user11699
    Mar 8, 2020 at 13:50
  • 1
    @Dum: Don't worry excessively about ridding yourself of attachments; that can become an attachment in its own right. If you find yourself really clinging to something — e.g. fear that you'll get a bad grade, or that people don't like you, or other typical university stuff — sit down and meditate when you get a chance, and let it wash out of your system. It may help at this stage to think of buddhist practice as detoxification rather than attainment. As you detoxify the attachments will grow thinner and weaker. Mar 9, 2020 at 16:42

You might want to distinguish between "attachment" and "craving" -- Why do the Noble Truths talk about 'craving', instead of about 'attachment'? -- it's more specifically "craving" that is deprecated.

Then Buddhism distinguishes "craving" (tanha) from "desire" (chanda) -- and "desire" might be for a wholesome or an unwholesome object.

How do I work without attaching to it ?

Maybe it's a practice.

My mum commented how patient I am when I help with her computer (i.e. she explicitly compared my demeanour with hers, saying that she gets upset and helpless if ever it doesn't work, whereas I don't, I just try to find a work-around for the problem). Now I'd slightly prefer not to do it at all, but I do because I think it's virtuous (to help her). And I'm not especially happy when it works as expected, and I'm not especially upset when it (temporarily) doesn't immediately work as intended/expected/predicted. So I'm working with the computer "as it actually is" and not only "how I want it to be" -- IMO I'm not too attached to its behaving as I hope it might. This is a result of decades of practising as a professional programmer, I know that getting upset with a computer isn't skilful, nor pleasant.

One of the Zen stories, No Attachment to Dust, includes the line, "Live with cause and leave results to the great law of the universe."

When I work with a computer I more or less understand or guess at the cause[s] of its behaviours.

So my work with her computer is a bit unattached, for example, in my opinion -- and it (working with it) doesn't really make me suffer, I don't think. I can remember when I started to program that I used to be surprised/unhappy if something I wrote didn't have the right effect, maybe that's something about being more attached as a novice -- or there being more of a gap between the computer on the desk and the model of the computer in my head -- with that "gap" then acting like a "craving" (for the computer to be other than as it is).

The bigger attachment in this story is something like, "I want to be the sort of person who helps their mother" -- that attachment can be a cause of suffering (e.g. "I wish I could help her more", or, "I don't want to do this other thing she asked"), but having done something like that for her that's not an action I regret, there's no remorse.

That's kind of where I am at the moment -- look at actions and habits (intentions) and wonder whether I regret that and feel remorse about it, like a bad habit, or whether it was a good thing to be doing or to have done, possibly an action that was intended (even regardless of its outcome) to benefit self and others.

You might like to read something like the book, The Buddha's Teachings on Prosperity, I think that the suttas are by and for monks and slanted towards the life of a monk, and I'm not saying that's a bad thing, but it isn't obvious how to apply that to life as a layperson. This book identifies and summarises from the suttas intended for lay people.


It is very simple Symtom 1. Fear to lose 2.worry 3.insecurity 4.jealousy 5.anger 6.dukha

This is symtom of attachment. For example. My wife ,my girlfriend,my bike, my hair , my child

If you want to know truth. Don't following any religion. Following yourself

  • Thanks, are these based on buddha's words ?
    – Dum
    Mar 11, 2020 at 14:49
  • No . This is my experience. This is no buddha words.
    – user17101
    Mar 11, 2020 at 15:38
  • "My experience" is this also attachment ? I have no answer
    – user17101
    Mar 11, 2020 at 15:41

Namo Buddhaya,

This question really sparked me so thought to contribute.

How do I know whether I am attached to something / someone?

This depends on the individual and how personally that thing or that person is important in your life. What I meant by important is how strongly you have cling into thoughts of that person or thing (bonded) in your mind. Think for a moment that you are going to die tomorrow (in your imagination) and also think about that someone or something. Can you honestly let that thing/person go off your mind knowing that you are going to die tomorrow and never going to see that thing/person again? The same thing happens if someone whom you loves a lot passes away, we feel terribly sad, because we we are so deeply attached to some people in our everyday life, undeniably. The more it becomes difficult to let something or someone go off from your mind more you are attached to that person or that thing in your life. (Lord Buddha's says attachment leads to suffering. That's in the Four Noble Truths)

How do I work without attaching?

In this society, there is a misconception that you cannot have a decent family, work, love life with following Dhamma, especially when it comes to detachment. It because our lack of understanding about Lord Buddha, Dhamma & Sangha. A person who knows Lords Buddha's Teachings he applies Dhamma to themselves and develops devotion (Shradda) towards Lord Buddha. There are a number of stories including lay people such as Nakula Matha / Nakula Pita (husband and wife), Anathapindika (a wealthy merchant and a banker), Visaka (a wealthy aristocratic woman) and so on, who followed Lord Buddha's teachings and became sotāpanna (stream-winner, the first state we'll achieve as a result of following the Noble Eight-Fold Path) and continued to do their day-to-day routines, maintaining family lives, maintaining businesses and so on, but with dedicated devotion towards Dhamma / Lord Buddha's Teaching's.

It is vital to understand the Four Noble Truths in order to understand Buddhism and especially to understand how to live/engage with day to day life routines knowing that everything we encounter one day will perish whether we like it or not. In every passing moment, things are decaying, whether it's your very expensive newly bought pair of Levi's jeans or cheap pair of jeans from the market both perish, but our unenlightened (Awidya) eye can't spot that unless we see a stretch mark, colour difference or something significant occurs.

More on the Four Noble Truths :- http://mahamevnawaimc.org/buddhism/

I hope you will find my contribution somewhat useful.

May the Noble Triple Gem Bless You :)


How do I know whether I am attached to ceratain things or not ?

Evidently, until one's attained enlightenment, everyone still has attachments of at various different levels from gross to subtle. At the grosser/coarser end of the spectrum, attachment is severe craving, an addiction. And the telltale sign is very simple: one continues to do something s/he's not able to stop! On the middle of the spectrum, one continues to have some sense of yearning and longing for the objects of their desire, but with some determination, one's able to stop with strong will. The lightest most subtle end and also the most difficult one to get rid of before attaining enlightenment, is attachment to conceit, a sense of "I", "mine", and "myself" making. For more infos, refer to the Ten Fetters.


How do I know whether I am attached to certain things or not?

All of the other answers are useful, but I’d suggest doing the thought experiment of either imagining yourself stepping up to the moment of giving it up completely or imagining yourself without that thing in your life.

Then analyze your feelings to that situation. Could you honestly see yourself able to completely give it up? Could you see yourself honestly able to be OK in life without it? I’m not asking if it would be inconvenient; more, I am asking if it’s absence would leave a hole in your ongoing life.

If the answer is ‘yes, it would leave an emptiness or no, I can’t see myself giving it up’, then I would maintain it signifies attachment which will eventually lead to suffering.

How do I work without attaching to it?

I cannot speak for others, but what works for me is to always keep perspective of what that work really is – an aspect of what I call the “external real world” which we must participate in as part of our current existence but which is really a temporary illusion that has no significance to the important inner reality of ourselves or our goal of reaching enlightenment.

Because it is, indeed, part of that “external real world” then how can you become attached to something that you know is temporary and illusionary?

Of course this begs the question: Why to care about how you do the work if this is so? There I look to the teachings of the Noble Eightfold Path. These apply to our actions in the “external real world”, and speak to Right Livelihood and Right Effort which, to my mind, applies also to work and how we should approach it. We should care about it and expend effort to do it well, just not attach to it.

Best to you in your path to figure your way through this.


Your question is answered exactly once you aware about the 4 ultimate realities called 28-Rupa[Matters], 52-Chethasika[Mental Factors], 89 or 121 Chiththa[Consciousness] and Nibbana. For the time being we can keep the Nibbana aside. I have given the link below:

4 ultimate realities.

Relax take your time and read carefully while understanding the concept behind each word. Remember the words " Concept behind each word". Do not try to search the word meaning. Just find the meaning for the clarification purpose. Try to feel the concept using your wisdom.

Example: Take the word "Patawi"[ Earth Element ]. At a glance we have an idea about earth or soil. But it is not the meaning here. It is far beyond that meaning. When we take Earth Element You have to consider hardness to softness all the places in between very near to liquids and even liquids hardness or toughness include.

In the mental factors you must learn well about 6 main root causes for the attachment. Those are

  1. Delusion (moha) - 02. wisdom factor (paññaa)
  2. Good-will (adosa) - 04. Good-will (adosa)
  3. Attachment (lobha) - 06. Non-attachment (alobha) Once you learn those well you will realize exactly the meaning of the attachment and at the same time even we say "Non attachment" it has a sort of attachment until attain Nibbana.

May triple Gem Bless You!!!


Try to let it go and you will become aware of its attachment. Go throw away your college degree. If you can’t then you are attached. You are attached to a standard of life which must be maintained.

You can work or live without attachment by developing thoughts of abandonment. Promise yourself that you will abandon it then you are closest to the idea of non-attachment . Once you have taken the middle path all attachments will vanish.


You understand these concepts:

When we attached to the taste we will trying to find more & more tasty foods. We can reduce that by getting a simple meal, cutting the extra meals or only taking 2 meals per day like monks.

When we attached to the clothes, we are trying to buy latest/expensive clothes. We can reduce that desire by wearing simple and charm clothes.

You can apply these same concepts to your exam by thinking of it like this. When we want the newest/trendiest clothes, we are thinking of how others are viewing us...if no one saw us, we wouldnt dress particularly how we do. You can think to yourself if you're attached because of pressures from others, or from yourself. Reframe this attachment by making a list of what you gain, vs what you are losing by this attachment.

You need to do well in your exams to reach a goal. However, the goal shouldnt define you or your purpose in this life. Every time you catch yourself having thoughts/feelings of attachments towards this...you can repeat an affirmation to yourself "I am not this goal" or something of this nature...or get up and shake it out...to disengage that feeling from within you.

That you are questioning this attachment, is a good first step.

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